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Revisiting a doctor on the front line of the pandemic

Back in March, as the United States was just beginning to experience a steep rise in coronavirus cases, NewsHour Weekend spoke with Dr. Alexis Langsfeld, who works in the emergency department of a New York City hospital, now in the epicenter of the pandemic. Special correspondent Karla Murthy caught up again with Dr. Langsfeld on the front line of the outbreak to learn more.

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  • Karla Murthy:

    The last time we spoke, you were dealing with a lack of personal protective equipment. What is the situation now?

  • Dr. Alexis Langsfeld:

    I know everyone has a different perspective and had a different experience on this. But you know, I'm a doctor in the emergency department and all of our doctors and nurses had really good PPE. And we all feel really lucky and really grateful that everybody put our – our safety first.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Can you describe what it's like to physically wear this protective gear and do your job? How has it affected the way you do your job?

  • Dr. Alexis Langsfeld:

    So when I'm dressed in my PPE, I'm wearing a big mask, which is extremely tight on my face. You can see now I'm wearing a like a bandage, a silicone bandage, which protects my nose because I was getting a pressure sore and it's tight all the way around your face. And then over top of that, you wear a regular surgical mask and then you have. I wear like a small pair of safety goggles which are close to my eyes and protect from any particulate getting into my eyes. And then I wear a face shield. And between all of those layers, being able to actually see somebody's space through the reflections and being able to hear their voice and be able to see their eyes. I mean, I literally now have my name written across the top of my visor and try and make sure that my I.D. is showing because people can't even tell it's me.

    The one other thing that's really hard for me is that the one thing that compromises my mask is if I smile too big and I'm. And I like to smile. So if I smile, I I compromise my mask and my safety. But I often see people looking at me like, what's under there? You know, it takes away a lot of the humanity of our interaction. It's so hard because I can't give them any of the visual cues of reassurance.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Now that hospitalizations are leveling off.. What are your biggest concerns right now?

  • Dr. Alexis Langsfeld:

    Now everyone's saying, oh, look, it's slowing down. It's getting better. It's getting better. But our tremendous fear is that this is not one curve up and down that we're trying to flatten, but that we're actually going to see a sine wave. And the whole point was to enable us to be able to have the facilities and the capacity within the hospital system to be able to take care of all those people along that wave without having one spike that devastates our our entire health care system. But that sine wave is just going to be a tremendous load on all the health care providers.

  • Karla Murthy:

    When we last spoke about a month ago, you were leaving your family behind to take on more shifts at the hospital. You weren't sure when you were going to see them again. Have you been able to reconnect?

  • Dr. Alexis Langsfeld:

    I have. We we had a long three week stretch. I'd never been away from them for that long. And when I arrived back, it was just an awesome, wonderful, sweet reunion. And seeing them again was just perfect. And. Then leaving again was impossible.

    It has been so hard in so many ways going through this pandemic, but it's also the community around me, like my neighborhood, people have been rising to such extraordinary heights, like I'm brought to tears every night at seven o'clock when people cheer and bang pots out the window, I'm going to cry just talking about it. And people have brought me, you know, chicken or or or roasted vegetables. Or people got together and they made us surgical caps. It's it's been really awesome to see how everyone's come together. So thank you to everyone who's been supporting us. It really means a lot to all of us. Yeah.

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